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July 1985

Artificial and Baboon Heart Implantation: The Jewish View

Author Affiliations

Jamaica, NY

Arch Intern Med. 1985;145(7):1330. doi:10.1001/archinte.1985.00360070212041

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To the Editor.  —The recent implantation of a baboon heart into a human being at Loma Linda (Calif) University Medical Center raises many moral and ethical questions. Among the issues raised are hazardous therapy and human experimentation; the use of animals for medical experiments and research; human, animal, and artificial organ transplantation, and the riskbenefit ratio. I wish to summarize the Jewish view on these issues.A cardinal principle of Judaism is that human life is of infinite and supreme value. The preservation of human life takes precedence over all biblical commandments except three: the injunctions against idolatry, incest, and (of course) murder. In order to preserve a human life, the Sabbath and even the Day of Atonement may be desecrated, and all other rules and laws, save the above three, may be suspended. Thus, human organ transplants from deceased persons are not only allowed but considered meritorious and praiseworthy

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